Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, one of the most prestigious art institutions in the world, has appointed its first director of belonging and inclusion – the latest in a series of attempts to make amends for allegations of racism.
The museum named Rosa Rodriguez-Williams in the senior position Thursday, saying she “will play a critical role in delivering on the MFA’s promise to be a museum for all of Boston.”
In 2019, the MFA was accused of racism after black high school students said they were harassed and mistreated on a class trip by other museum administrators and an employee who reportedly told the children, “No food, no drink, and no watermelon.”
Director Matthew Teitelbaum publicly apologized, banned two visitors, launched an internal investigation, and hired a law firm led by a former attorney general to conduct an independent assessment.
“Rosa’s deep experience and passion for equality and inclusion will be invaluable as we continue our important work to ensure a real sense of belonging at the MFA,” he said in a statement.
The MFA, which will celebrate its 150th year in 2020, welcomed 1.2 million visitors each year from around the world before the coronavirus pandemic had to shut it down in March.
One of America’s oldest and most prestigious museums, the MFA is home to half a million prominent works. It has been facing its blind spots since two dozen seventh graders, all colored students from the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, were mocked on a visit in May 2019.
“This moment in our country reinforces the powerful opportunity the MFA has to heal,” said Makeeba McCreary, the museum’s head of education and community engagement who spent much of the past year holding roundtable discussions on inclusion and racialism. diversity.
Born in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez-Williams previously headed the Latinx Student Cultural Center at Northeastern University, promoting the recruitment, retention, and development of Latinx and Hispanic students.
She said on Thursday that she is “honored and excited … to be part of an institution that recognizes her struggle with inclusion.”
“The MFA rises to the present moment with the desire to reinvent and reinvent itself with the aim of achieving an inclusive experience that represents the beauty of the diversity represented in every neighborhood in this city,” she said .
Earlier this year, the museum created a $ 500,000 fund dedicated to promoting diversity as part of an agreement with the state of Massachusetts in the wake of the allegations.